ASIC’s liquidator’s lodgement blitz uncovers not much

lodgementBreakdown of forms not lodged and notices not published by percentage.
lodgement

ASIC’s senior executive leader -liquidators Thea Eszenyi.

Well the results of ASIC’s published notices website and lodgement project’ have been collated and it appears that the vast majority of Australia’s 700 or so registered liquidators scarcely miss a beat when it comes to compliance.

In ASIC works to ensure registered liquidators comply with obligations ASIC said the key finding was that: “Registered liquidators are mostly doing the right thing and lodging forms and publishing notices as required.”

“Mostly”? During the three and a half years of the study ASIC found that of the 281,606 forms required to be lodged, 9,162 (3.3%) were not lodged; and of the 46,378 notices required to be published, 3,257 (7.0%) were not published.

Given the Niagara of compliance RL’s deal with those numbers deserve a more salutary adjective. Overwhelmingly doing the right thing, albeit with the occasional omission perhaps?

ASIC justified the time and expense it spent on the three and a half year program thus: “We consider the failure by registered liquidators to lodge forms with ASIC or to publish insolvency-related notices on ASIC’s published notices website (published notices website) can be symptomatic of wider systemic failure by registered liquidators in the conduct of external administrations.”

And there were of course some stragglers whose tardiness or failure to lodge was next level.

Two unidentified registered liquidators incurred late lodgement fees totalling $33,143 and $31,479 respectively, such was their indifference to process.

Five liquidators also requested cancellation of their licence during the life of the program, which began in 2013, just six months after ASIC launched the published notices website in July 2012, and concluded in June 2017.

One of the most common errors was a notice published with an incorrect ACN. As it turns out, while many if not most RLs assume otherwise, ASIC’s published notices website is not linked to its corporate register and therefore doesn’t automatically detect that the ACNs don’t match.

Despite all the touted power of computing, databases are still too often isolated and incapable of sharing information.

Nor did the report provide any information on how often the incorrect ACN was on the corporate register and therefore ASIC’s responsibility to rectify.

What the report does contain is a wealth of useful guidance about how to deal with each of the RL’s myriad notice and lodgement obligations and given RLs sometimes blamed an omission or error on a staff member, the report should be read by every member of every RL’s team.

Useful this report is, but ASIC’s continuing focus on a highly regulated and mostly compliant population of about 700 RLs whilst ignoring the damage done by hundreds of individuals unfit to be directors of companies continues to rankle.

Further reading:

ASIC works to ensure registered liquidators comply with obligations

About the Author

Peter Gosnell
Insolvency News Online illuminates the practice of insolvency Australia-wide, highlighting the triumphs and travails of the nation’s registered practitioners and the accounting and legal professionals who work with them. INO is produced by Peter Gosnell, former business editor and senior business reporter at The Daily Telegraph newspaper. During a decade-long career, your correspondent reported on such notable corporate collapses as HIH, One.Tel, Westpoint and Fincorp as well as some of the nation's highest profile bankruptcies and the investigations and prosecutions arising from Australia's most notorious instances of white-collar crime.

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